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Rams WR Isaac Bruce on HOF possibility: I check every box

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NFL Media's Oklahoma Drill series presents exclusive, quick-hitting one-on-one interviews with players and coaches from around the league. No nonsense -- just football experiences directly from the source.

Isaac Bruce

Wide receiver, retired

Born: Nov. 10, 1972

Experience: 16 NFL seasons

Interview by Lakisha Jackson | Dec. 12, 2017

I think what [the Los Angeles Rams] have is definitely a thinking offense. You gotta be smart to play in this offense that they're playing in right now, because coach [Sean] McVay comes with a lot of creativity and you can tell from the formations that he has these guys in. These guys have to be on their toes and have to be intellectually at a point where you can remember the formation and still execute the play at the same time. So, that was pretty similar to what we had with coach [Mike] Martz. You had to be smart. You had to know what every position was doing and he trained us to have quarterback eyes. That was a plus for us.

The difference is you got Orlando Pace axing out future Hall of Famers as far as defensive ends are concerned, plowing holes open for Marshall [Faulk] to run through, giving Kurt [Warner] the ability to drop back seven steps and deliver passes, and myself and Torry [Holt] the opportunity to get down the field and make bigger plays. It's different from that standpoint, but I think intellectually and the creativity they bring is similar.

I think [the main reason for the Rams' quick turnaround is] McVay's not coach [Jeff] Fisher. I mean, I think coach Fisher was there, honestly, to facilitate a move from St. Louis to L.A. and he played his role. I think when coach McVay came in, he's a guy that was a former offensive coordinator. He's cutting his teeth as a head coach right now. He wanted to come in and really imprint what he wants to impact in this league, what he wants it to be. He's doing that. A guy like that you can't tame.

And he brought in coach Wade Phillips, guy who's seasoned in this game. He's putting guys in position and they're here to win. They're not here to do anything other than win.... McVay's been big for us.

The NFC is up in the air, especially with [Carson] Wentz going down. There's no big dog in the NFC right now. Seattle's been decimated. ... I think [the Rams] have the most creativity on offense [and] have just enough defense right now to really make some noise and go deep into the playoffs. I'm a homer. Until my team is out of it or we're in the Super Bowl, I gotta go with the Rams. But I think it's a toss-up right now, really.

I'm not sure if I'm like the other [Hall of Fame-eligible receivers this year]. I don't know what the criteria is or if it's just based solely on numbers, or if other aspects of the game impact what you did as your body of work is concerned. But when you look from a numbers standpoint, when I retired, I was the second person ever to hit 15,000 yards receiving. If you remove the top guy, I'm the No. 1 wide receiver in the history of the league as far as receiving is concerned.

When it was meek times in St. Louis or in Los Angeles when I first got there, I stood out. When it was feast time, I stood out. So numbers, longevity, impact, and I also look at guys who came after me, my disciples I like to call them. Kevin Curtis, Shaun McDonald, [Az-Zahir] Hakim, Torry Holt, Eddie Kennison and so many guys who come up to me when I'm at a game and when I was recently retired, guys like Greg Jennings, they'd come shake my hand and say, "I watched a lot of your film. I wanted to run routes like you." I do the same.

There were guys who I probably never met that I emulated a lot of their game in my game. So just to hear guys come say that to me, that lets me know that my job was completed and I passed everything I had to other guys. And I see similarities in these guys when they play their game as far as my game is concerned, and that really confirms it. If it's stats, longevity, performing in the biggest of games, I think I check every box.

We had no idea what we had when Trent [Green] went down [in 1999]. We were at a loss for a moment. It was the end of free agency and training camp had already started. The players that we had on the team and in the offense at the time, I think we were all -- I would call us leaders -- but we needed a facilitator. We had to hope and pray that Kurt [Warner] could be that guy and turns out he was. He turned out to be more than what we expected.

I guess, in the locker room, we would tell [Nick Foles], Don't screw it up. We've gotten this far [and] just make sure that you're not losing games or you are not giving the football away. Honestly, that's heart-to-heart talk but you definitely want to encourage him. Like I said, he's a guy that has been in the fire. He's started some games in this league. I believe he was a Pro Bowler. I think he has an incentive to go in and play well. They've got a lot riding on it right now.

[My top-three receivers this season are] DeAndre Hopkins, Antonio Brown, Julio Jones, and if I had to have a fourth: Keenan Allen.

Brown just has everything you ask for. He's a guy that can catch a screen pass and go 50-plus [yards]. He can run routes down the field and get chunk plays. He's a good route technician. He's explosive once the ball is in his hands. His start and stop, there's nothing to compare it to in his generation right now.

Julio is a big guy who can play like a little guy. He's a little bit below in route running [than] Antonio Brown is, but he makes big plays. He's a guy once they figure out a way to continuously and consistently get him the football, I think he'll be right up there with Antonio Brown.

Hopkins can do it all. He can take the top off the defense. He's a great route runner. But the biggest thing I like about him is his competitiveness. If I had to find similarities in my game with one of those three, it would definitely be Hopkins.

I think [Brown has done enough to win MVP]. I'm kind of with him in that boat. It's easy for a quarterback to get MVP of the league. There's so much attention given to them. But when a guy has done what he's done so consistently over the last couple of years and having another big season leading the league in receiving yards and catches, why not? He'll definitely garner some votes, but I think he should win. I think he's done enough to prove that he can be a non-quarterback position MVP.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: This interview was conducted prior to Antonio Brown being out for the rest of the regular season after injurying his calf in Week 15.)

I think [Rams fans] were really gutted -- I'd say to a certain extent -- when the team picked up to leave [after the 1994 season]. It was my first year. We probably weren't drawing an average, maybe 40-30,000 fans in Anaheim. But they were those who were like the Melon Heads. They were there every game. They would show up at every community event. You could feel their pain when we left. It's funny because I've experienced it on both sides, St. Louis and Los Angles. For a team to pick up and leave, fans who thought they were being faithful to the team, that kind of hurt them. So I guess the trust level has to be repaired. And I think winning does it from a certain extent but at the same time, it's up to my organization to continue to go out into the community, invite them and do everything we can to help them and I think that trust level will go back up.



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